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New Zealand: Average of 8.9 laser injury claims per year, costing NZD $93.63 each

Over the 13 years from 1 July 2000 through 15 June 2013, there have been an average of 8.9 insurance claims per year relating to laser eye and skin injuries in New Zealand, according to the country’s Accident Compensation Corporation. This covers all types of lasers, including those used in industrial, commercial, home, school and other locations.

The laser injury claim rate has increased from about 5 per year to about 13 per year, over the 2000-to-2013 period. The increase works out to 0.73 additional claim per year. This increase is one reason that New Zealand is taking action in 2013 to restrict higher-power handheld lasers.

NZ average number of claims per year

The ACC is the sole and compulsory provider of accident insurance in the country of 4.4 million persons. There were 14 claims in 2012/2013, which is a rate of one laser-related claim for every 314,000 persons. If the U.S. with its population of 314 million people had the same rate, this would indicate about 1000 laser-related claims in 2012/2013. (For U.S. emergency room data for laser pointers, see this page.)

An ACC representative wrote that the low cost of claims “would suggest the injuries were not significant.” The blue trend line below shows the average cost for medical treatment of an injury as being below NZD $100 for most of the past 13 years. (Based on average exchange rates over the past 13 years, the NZD average cost of $93.63 per injury is about USD $61.42.)

NZ average claim amount per year

There do not appear to be any incidents requiring exceptional treatment. Even in 2004/2005, the year with the highest average claim amount per injury, treatment cost just NZD $249.50 (USD $163.67).

The New Zealand ACC data includes all laser-related eye and skin injury claims. About 36% of injuries occurred at a commercial, service or industrial location, 22% occurred in the home, and 17% at “school”. It is not known if this includes laser labs at colleges and universities, or is primarily elementary and secondary education establishments.

Of the injuries, over half were diagnosed as burns. Information on eye vs. skin injuries, and on the severity and ultimate prognosis of the injuries was not in the ACC data.

From information generously provided by the Accident Compensation Corporation to a May 2013 request by LaserPointerSafety.com. The raw statistics are below.

New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation laser injury claim statistics

Data provided by ACC to LaserPointerSafety.com on 27 June 2013

The table below shows the number of claims lodged with ACC for each financial year since July 2000. It also shows the yearly amount of insurance money claimed, and the amount per incident, in New Zealand dollars. These amounts do not include GST tax.

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FINANCIAL NOTE U.S. dollar equivalents are as follows: Total of all claims is USD $7,125, yearly average of all claims is USD $548, and average amount per incident is USD $61.42. (During the 13 years covered in the table, the NZD-to-USD exchange rate has fluctuated from a low of 1 NZD = 0.392 USD on 18 October 2000, to a high of 1 NZD = 0.878 USD on 29 July 2011, with the average exchange rate over this period being 1 NZD = 0.656 USD. The average exchange rate is used for the NZD-to-USD conversions.)

The table below outlines the injury diagnosis for each claim from 1 July 2000 to 15 June 2013

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The following table provides a breakdown of the total claims lodged since 2000 by age and gender.

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The final table details the location where the injury was reported.

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The information provided only accounts for treatment-based injuries which have been lodged with ACC. This does not include injuries caused by lasers in the course of receiving treatment.